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Five Tips for Engaging Customers With Video Ads This Holiday Season (and Most Any Other Time)

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The number of people who watch online video at least once per month is greater than those who watch TV at least once per month, according to a recent Nielsen study. So it's not surprising that Forrester projects the domestic digital video advertising market to swell from $2 billion in 2011 to $5.4 billion in 2016.

Holiday season marketing will likely account for a good portion of that growth, considering that the holiday season accounts for 25-40% of annual sales for retailers, according to the National Retail Federation. Moreover, even in challenging economic times, online retail sales will account for nearly 25% of retailers' sales this year, eMarketer predicts.

You still have a small window of time to enhance your holiday marketing initiatives before shoppers start checking off their wish lists. And the most engaging and effective medium to use with those initiatives is online video advertising.

Here are five tips for smart video ads that will make the most of this holiday season for your online business.

1. Use pre-roll ads and personalize them for brand and performance value


Pre-roll video advertising is the fastest-growing and most effective form of online advertising. These ads guarantee views, so allocate your holiday ad spend accordingly.

Retargeting website abandoners with personalized pre-roll ads can also bridge brand and performance advertising disciplines, supporting the creative messaging, reach, and scale requirements of brand advertisers, as well as critical action-driven, tracking, and optimization elements that performance marketers require.

From a performance perspective, visitors engaged with personally relevant, retargeted ads visit the site, convert, and spend more. From a brand impact perspective, there's also value in the number of hours of a highly relevant audience's engagement with your brand.

2. Be festive

As it is the joyous season of the year, make sure your videos are merry, light, and humorous as well. The holiday season presents an opportunity to refresh your brand's personality, so infuse video ads with seasonal messages that engage customers in new ways.

For example, last year, Starbucks introduced a new holiday theme into its communications: "Let's merry." Another great example is last year's Overstock.com holiday video ad, which not only celebrates the holiday spirit but also showcases the brand's customer service values.

3. Keep video ads updated to reflect promotions and price changes

Consumers seek out special offers, and retailers will offer an abundance of limited-time discounts, free shipping, door-busters, and "act now" events during the season. Though time-sensitive promotions are great tactics for motivating customers, they also put added pressure on brands. Communications, regardless of channel, must be timely.

Office Depot, for example, supports fluctuating price points, holiday deals and last-minute offers with videos that are generated in real time, on an automated basis. The company generates these videos for products in its online catalog, as well as in the form of pre-roll video ads.

4. Ensure performance with interactivity

Interactive call-to-action buttons are critical to driving the performance of any offer type presented within video ads. In the absence of interactivity, a next-best approach is adding a promotional code, or even a QR code that can be scanned with mobile devices.

5. Convenience can be as motivating as price

Fully 40% of the top 50 Internet retailers offer "buy online, pick up in-store" programs. Even pure-play retailers such as Amazon.com are pursuing pick-up programs. "Pick up at a store near you" is convenient year-round, but even more so during the holidays, when shipping delays and out-of-stock notices are most common. Promote this option in your video ads.

Likewise, use personalized pre-roll ads to recognize your most loyal customers and encourage them to take advantage of the convenience of shopping with rewards points: "You've earned 'em. What better time to use 'em?"

* * *

Smart video advertising will help your online business target and engage holiday shoppers via relevant messaging that enhances the customer experience. An engaging customer experience will attract more site visitors and drive sales, turning holiday shoppers into holiday buyers.

Note: This year, Hanukkah falls 11 days earlier than last year, so an early start to the season is expected. How will video advertising support your holiday sales objectives?


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Kelly Ford is vice-president of marketing at SundaySky, creator of the SmartVideo technology and provider of an enterprise-scale software-as-a-service (SaaS) video platform. Kelly sets and executes strategies that build presence and pipeline for SundaySky.

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